Building Doormen as Security Hired Eyes

Jane Jacobs, the late, legendary urban planner whose grassroots activism prevented Robert Moses from turning Battery Park into a series of bridges, highways, and on-ramps, wrote at great length of the importance of well-used sidewalks keeping neighborhoods secure. The more eyes on the street, she said, the safer that street.

“In some rich city neighborhoods… such as residential Park Avenue or upper Fifth Avenue in New York,” Jacobs writes, in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “street watchers are hired. A network of doormen and superintendents, of delivery boys and nursemaids, keeps residential Park Avenue supplied with eyes. At night, with the security of the doormen as a bulwark, dog walkers safely venture forth and supplement the doormen.”

So important are the doormen to the feeling of security, Jacobs maintained, that their loss would wreak havoc on even the finest residential street. If the rents on Park Avenue “were to slip below the point where they could support a plentiful hired neighborhood of doormen…it would undoubtedly become a woefully dangerous street,” she concludes.

Rents on Park Avenue—and listing prices and maintenance fees—are not in danger of slipping anytime soon, and with any luck, we will never know if Jacobs’ dire prediction would come true. But her point is clear: doormen are essential to the security of their buildings—even if providing security is not something they actively do.

“Doormen say—and many tenants agree—that their main job is security,” writes Peter Bearman, a professor of sociology at Columbia, in his study titled, appropriately, Doormen, “but few doormen can ever recall doing anything that was security related, except for protecting tenants from the behavior of other tenants.”

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12 Comments

  • HI,more of a question then a comment.Where can i apply for the oppurtunity to become a doorman,Thanks.
  • Exellent, I am ready to work.
  • I have worked as a Doorman in a four star Hotel and we do provide a certain level of security.. in addition to our job description. I did enjoy my time as a Doorman and look forward to finding a building that can utilize my work experience and professionalism - see you soon, i hope
  • Question. Is polishing the brass and mapping the floor part of a night doorman's job?
  • iam a doorman on long island .iam printed this for my other doorman to read
  • I am looking for a position as a door man I am currently working as a security guard
  • I am looking for a doorman job,i am a security officer, but currently unemployed.How and where i can apply for a doorman job?
  • Advice from a Doorman on Friday, January 14, 2011 10:40 AM
    To those seeking the job, my advice is to start by contacting real estate management companies and send a resume. They hire seasonally for vacation relief. It's how you get your foot in the door. Make sure that if you are called that you speak clearly and professionally. If interviewed, DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Do not show up in jeans and baseball caps and men, REMOVE EARRINGS. Appearance is everything.
  • am a doorman in a building for the past seven years un the bronx and would like to work in the city with more benefits. i have a very good reference from the building association upon request.
  • I am interested in working as a doorman, as i have both the experience and personality the goes with the job.
  • I been looking for work, done securtiy,for out of state would like to know where to apply
  • I been looking for a doorman Job for years now can you tell me were I can place a Resume and get a response I have 14 years Experience.